February 7, 2014 was the 20th anniversary of my injury. Since then, a certain sadness has come over me I can’t seem to quite shake. Every February 7th is hard, but this year is different. Why?
I am healthier now than I have ever been post injury. I have a wonderful partner and we’ve built an incredible life together. I have so many people who love me and only wish the best for me.
I’m currently working on a business project that is going in all the right directions. I’m crazy about children and I have nieces and nephews who I have wonderful relationships with. Life is good.
Don’t get me wrong… My life has its stresses, like everyone. Finances can get very tight living with a disability, I have been chronically short staffed for home care as long as I can remember and my healthcare benefits are constantly shrinking. But this is nothing new, it’s just a day in the life.
Then why do I feel the way I do? What’s the big deal between 19 years and 20 years? It’s not like things are going to change radically physically. At least I don’t think so. There isn’t a cure for SCI and I don’t think there will be in my lifetime.
My point is I haven’t been sitting here for twenty years, constantly disappointed a cure hasn’t been found. Obviously, I’d take it yesterday if it existed, but I haven’t been waiting for it.
Sustaining a spinal cord injury is a very grave loss. A permanent loss. And I think what I’m feeling is grief.
Maybe this year is different than every other year because twenty years sounds horrible. TWENTY YEARS. I HAVE BEEN PARALYZED FOR 20 YEARS. It blows my mind.
The beginning of getting injured is hell. Pure hell. Shock, physical and emotional pain, guilt that is smothering and so, so much more… Ignorance is truly bliss because if I knew in advance what I had to endure the first six months, I would have given up.
This anniversary has made me understand something. Grief doesn’t leave you just because time goes by. It’s there forever… That sense of loss. But life is for the living, and it doesn’t stop because of your grief.
It’s unfathomable at first life can go on. Not just for you, but for anyone… Everyone. How can the world keep spinning with me in this much pain? How can existence still, well, exist?
As you continue your life, you’re grief lives with you. But time does have some magic. As time passes, your grief changes, and it gives your soul room for other things… Happy things.
My grief is something that will stay with me the rest of my life. The best way I can describe it is it’s as if I have a Siamese twin that has passed away. She is still a part of me and always will be.
I wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t think it’s possible to remember someone or something we’ve lost without grief. That’s the price we pay for loving. And frankly, who would want to change that?
Twenty years after experiencing something I called hell, I have a beautiful life. I am blessed in more ways and experience more happiness than I could ever put into words.
I believe in happiness over sadness the same way I believe in good over evil. Sadness exists, but there is so much more happiness.